Isaac Albéniz

Spanish composer and pianist (Camprodon, Spain, 1860 - Cambo-les-Bains, 1909)

Albéniz was a pioneer in the rebirth of Spanish music. As the creator of a modern piano school, he defined Spanish Romanticism and left an indelible mark on the nationalist movement and his direct successors such as Turina or Falla. His innovations in writing influenced contemporary composers from Messiaen to Stockhausen.

As a child prodigy, Albéniz gave his first concert at the age of four. At seven, he left for Paris to study with Alexis Marmontel, Bizet’s and Debussy’s master. He then completed his studies at the Madrid Conservatory where he established himself as a brilliant virtuoso and improviser. He gave concerts throughout Spain but also in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

He studied with Luis Brassin, then Felipe Pedrell who transmitted his passion for Spanish national music to him. He founded the Spanish school, drawing inspiration from popular rhythms and themes. He became a piano teacher at the Schola Cantorum and worked extensively in collaboration with the English poet Francis Burdett Money-Coutts, who also provided him with financial support. Back in Barcelona where he did not feel welcome, he returned to Paris and from that moment, considered himself an exile.

Four landmark dates in the life of Isaac Albéniz

1876-1879: Piano studies at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels with Luis Brassin

1883: He moved to Barcelona and married. He had his daughter Laura Albéniz, a famous painter.

1894: He moved to Paris where he rubbed shoulders with Dukas, Fauré, Debussy, Chausson, d'Indy.

1900-1902: He returned to Barcelona, but was disappointed by how his native country welcomed him and returned to Paris in 1903.

Six key works by Isaac Albéniz

1886: Suite española

1883: Recuerdos de viaje

1896: Pepita Jiménez

1896: To Nellie: Six Songs

1908: Four melodies

1905-1908: Iberia, in four books, his masterpiece that echoed his disappointment when he had returned to Barcelona